I have never enjoyed flying, but had flown fourteen times prior to this last week. Many of those flights were taken within a three year period until the summer of 2002, when I made any excuse not to fly. This has included ‘being helpful’ by transporting the family’s skiing bags to the French Alps, and, this Summer, driving just less than 3000 miles across France, Switzerland and Italy because ‘ I did not miss anything on the ground.’ All excuses you have heard before, I am sure. For the past three October half-term holidays, I have explored different parts of Scotland with my father-in-law, whilst the rest of the family flew to Sinai for a hot, beach-based holiday. I, however, came back, on each of the three holidays, feeling rain-sodden, very pale (by comparison) and that I had paid more for my week in Scotland than they had for the three of them to go to Sinai!!I longed to fly, and decided to do something about it.
As you, through Jasper, say within the CDs, there is no ‘miracle cure’ and there is no one answer. The holiday for us all, including me, to go to Sinai was booked back in May, and I had worried pretty much, about the flight, since then. I kept putting the matter off, and keeping myself busy so that I did not have to think about it. A couple of months ago, I bought your book. Having read the book from cover to cover several times, three weeks ago I went to your website via the link in your book. I am delighted that I downloaded the four CDs to my iPod as, for the last two weeks, I have listened to them, from start to finish, as I drove to and from work. Yes, there is an advantage to the half-hour commute each way!I feel that my greatest source of fear was not knowing what the different aeroplane noises meant, including the two regular chimes that mean ‘pick up the phone!’ I also needed to know what happened to an aeroplane before the flight, and what happened during different stages of the fhlight. I took so much advice from the CDs; I had downloaded some of my favourite comedy series to my iPod, to listen to on the plane, and I had invested in some ‘calmers’, as well as buying an eye-mask and some earplugs to ‘dull the noises’ but still know what was happening. Last Sunday , I was up and ready; I even drove the whole distance to Gatwick as a means of retaining my focus – this is not something I could have done before. Previously I would have been curled up on the front passenger seat! I had booked seats for us in one of the executive lounges, where I could sit and watch ALL of the planes coming and going safely! There were some moments of ‘quiet’ panic but the family were very supportive, and had agreed not to keep asking, “Are you all right?” The worst moment was when the flight was called; we did not rush to the boarding gate but, using your advice, we proceeded calmly and let others rush there first. I left my family, at one stage, to go ‘for a walk by myself’ and shall never forget the looks of relief on their faces as I reappeared at the boarding gate. Getting onto the plane, I told the Chief Steward that I was an ‘anxious flier’; he was excellent, and he came to talk me through the different ‘noises’ and stages of the flight.What I did find is that the anticipation is often worse than the flight, as I was a completely different person once I was on the plane and in my seat. I had everything that I needed around me and was thinking positively. I talked myself through the different stages of the flight, and eagerly looking forward to the next stage of the flight. On the outward journey, I was even looking forward to the in-flight meal (not possible, I hear you say!) and I managed to sleep – again, something I would not have done before as I would have been waiting for every ‘new’ noise.The return flight, yesterday, was even better; I had not spent the whole week worrying about the return flight as has been my previous pattern. In fact, I was so ‘laid back’ that my children informed me that I needed Valium as a stimulant! Yesterday, I flew without any sense of panic and enjoyed the flight to the extent that I spent some time talking to the co-pilot, I walked around without fear of tipping the aircraft, I talked myself through mild turbulence, and I swapped places with my son so that I could have a window seat in order that I could watch and talk him through the landing. Although this is a long e-mail, it is written with a great sense of delight as I have achieved more in the last eight days using your book and CDs than I would ever have thought possible. I can only express my grateful thanks to you and Jasper for the content and delivery that has made that difference.I am sure that this is only the beginning; at some point I have to face the mental barrier of the Atlantic Ocean as I would like to visit North America and Canada, and I have been asked to walk to the South Pole (this trip involving eight flights in three weeks – four of them over the Atlantic and Southern Oceans). The amount of water is a huge worry and any advice / words that may help would be gratefully received. Finally, as Jasper says, ‘at each stage, really congratulate yourself.’ Tonight we shall toast this new achievement of more informed, and panic-free flying with champagne, and we shall raise a glass to you and Jasper.
With my best wishes, RW”